The Chevrolet Cruze is a huge improvement over its Lacetti predecessor in this area, and while it’s easy to say that it needed to be, this cabin now compares well with class standards for both value-brand and mainstream models.
Its twin cockpit theme, in which the dashboard is bisected by a centre console to wrap around driver and passenger, is said to be inspired by the interior of the original 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, of which this sculptural theme was indeed a feature.
The driving environment is comfortable and, in the main, it doesn’t look or feel cheap. This isn’t a cockpit to sit back and admire, but it’s a perfectly adequate, functional and pleasant place. Mid-spec LT models come with an interesting mix of materials: leather on the steering wheel and gearlever, high-gloss black and aluminium-look plastics on the centre console and a particularly tactile and attractive upholstered finish on the dashboard.
There are a few hard, cheap-feeling fittings, such as the grab handles and glovebox plastics, but the switchgear feels hardy.
Space is plentiful up front, but the saloon model's plunging, coupé-apeing roofline impinges upon second-row headroom, and its notchback rear end limits your cargo carrying options. Better is the hatchback, with a generously commodious cabin – not the biggest in the class, but above average on passenger space – and a large boot. A Skoda Octavia would still shade it on sheer usefulness, but little else in the class is more practical.